Soundtrack Of My Life: Passenger

Maker of mega hits, expert dad-dancer

The first song I remember hearing

Simon & Garfunkel – ‘The Boxer’ (Live at The Concert In Central Park)

“My earliest memory of music is from car journeys with my family. We used to religiously rinse the cassette of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Concert In Central Park’. It’s an amazing live recording and this is the song I remember hearing the most. As a kid you listen to music differently. You don’t understand how it’s created, the nuts and bolts of it, and I just remember sitting in the backseat and feeling magic washing over me when this song came on.”

The first song I fell in love with

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Cat Stevens – ‘The Wind’

“My mum and dad brought me up on all the ’60s and ’70s classic songwriter stuff. Lots of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Cat Stevens was always a big one. This song, it’s not one of his big hits or anything, but there’s something absolutely glorious about it. I remember playing it on repeat over and over again because it’s only two minutes long and kinda leaves you wanting more. It’s got a real lightness and airiness to it, which I think is what I often strive for in my own music. It’s really magical.”

The first album I ever bought

Michael Jackson – ‘Dangerous’

“This is such an amazing album. I remember getting it on cassette and unfolding the inlay cover and the artwork just blowing my tiny mind. Putting a Michael Jackson tape on at 10 years old you’re just like, ‘I don’t understand what’s happening to my brain.’ It’s a perfect album from start to finish. He was otherworldly. He’s one of those artists – and I’d put David Bowie in this category – where you’re not even sure if they’re from planet Earth because they’re so different, so unique, so incredible.”

The first big gig I went to

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The Rolling Stones – Wembley Stadium, 1999

“I went to this gig with my friend Luke when I was about 15 or 16. It was an amazing night but it was also very overwhelming. It was the first time I had ever been in that situation with so many people, watching such a mega band. I lost my mate in amongst it all and ended up sharing my evening with a load of Mexican guys. They were massive Rolling Stones fans; I think they had specifically come over for the gig. I smoked a load of weed and didn’t find Luke until about 1am after the gig was over.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Justin Timberlake – ‘SexyBack’ Feat. Timbaland

“This era of music was really refreshing and full of fantastic pop songs. While I may not be a connoisseur of this type of stuff being that I write folk ballads, I can acknowledge how immaculate and insane Timbaland’s production is. I think it’s really important as a musician, and as a human being actually, to embrace good music, no matter what you’re usually into. It’s the type of song you can’t not dance to. After a couple of beers it’s embarrassing dad dancing for the rest of the night.”

The song I wish I’d written

Joni Mitchell – ‘Both Sides Now’ (Orchestra Version)

“I was in the car the other day and this song came on and it just smashed me. It was the later version with the orchestra and I hadn’t heard it for a long time. It’s so sombre. She sounds like she smoked 70 cigarettes before she sang it. I just love the sentiment of the song – so clever. Every verse tackles a different thing: clouds first, then it’s love, then it’s life. And just how she’s viewed those things as life has gone on, it’s such a unique take on songwriting. Joni Mitchell had to be on this list somewhere and it’s about as close to a perfect song as I’ve ever heard.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Taylor Swift – ‘Willow’

“I think there’s something really magical about this particular song. I’m probably not the first person to say that being that it’s turning into a bit of a mega hit, but I can’t get it out of my head. I listened to it about 19 times in a row and now it’s just firmly stuck in there. I’m a massive Taylor Swift fan and I’ve been smashing her album, but this song is so good and so catchy. It’s really encouraging to see such a massive, global pop star coming into this more folky world. I couldn’t dream of jumping from genre to genre so I have huge respect for anybody who can pull that off.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Foy Vance – ‘She Burns’

“This song is at the top of a playlist I have called ‘Good Times’, which I play a lot because I often can’t think of what to listen to. It’s a brilliant song, but because of the amount of times I’ve heard it by accident over the last year I can’t do it again. I always skip it now. So unfortunately, through no fault of his own, because he wrote such a great song that it went in at number one on my playlist, he is now the song I can’t listen to.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Gregory Alan Isakov – ‘She Always Takes It Black’

“Gregory is genuinely one of the most incredible lyricists – although very underrated and under celebrated – and there’s so much heart to his music. I well up every time I hear this song. I’m a massive lyrics guy, and there are some songs that you listen to where every line packs a punch and there’s not a single throwaway moment. I feel like this song is one of those. It’s not particularly long but there are some devastating lines in it, and I would like to make everyone at my funeral as fucking miserable as possible. If they weren’t already crying this song will tip them over the edge.”

Passenger’s new single ‘What You’re Waiting For’ is out now

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